Is Apple’s magic wand ‘the simplest interface’ for iTV that Steve Jobs envisioned?

By , Jul 5, 2013

iTV on wall mockup

As Tim Cook & Co. continue “pulling the string” on the TV space, readers with a keen interest in Apple’s many patent applications are aware of a 2009 filing involving a wand remote of sorts that may include a motion detection component meant for the television interface.

Last June, the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) granted that patent. And just last month, another major wand-related patent surfaced in USPTO’s database that could be the magic required to make the TV experience “just work.”

It outlines a remote control containing fingerprint sensors, theoretically enabling identity and trust in order to authenticate viewers securely and deliver personalized content. It’s especially noteworthy in the context of the rumored fingerprint scanning thought to be the killer feature of the upcoming iPhone 5S

Filed on December 24, 2012 and granted on June 13, 2013, the filing titled ‘Scroll bar with video region in a media system’ was first picked up by FierceCable.

It describes the wand remote as being used to navigate programming from the Apple TV and other media devices, including content delivered via coaxial cable.

It’s worth remarking that cable television through coaxial cable and fingerprint sensors (mentioned in two distinct claims) would both be firsts for the Apple TV.

Apple magic wand patent (drawing 002)

Apple writes in the filing:

In response to detecting a thumbprint or fingerprint, wand or the electronic device may compare the detected print with a library of known prints to authenticate or log-in the user associated with the print.

In response to identifying the user, the electronic device may load content specific to the identified user (e.g., a user profile, or access to the user’s recordings), or provide the user with access to restricted content (e.g., content restricted by parental control options).

Some parallels could be drawn to Microsoft’s Xbox One console which similarly logs in users and delivers personalized dashboards by authenticating them securely via a unique voice fingerprint, requiring a user to simply say ‘Xbox On.’

Now, the California firm recently expanded on Apple TV’s content sources with additions of HBO Go, WatchESPN and a few other media sources.

But Apple is yet to persuade Hollywood moguls to appease cable-cutters by letting them subscribe to TV programming through iTunes, bypassing a cable subscription.

Vested interests are holding back Apple’s plans so the magic wand based on fingerprint authentication may be Apple’s secret weapon against the content industries.

If Apple could authenticate users who simply hold a magic wand or an iPhone 5S (rumored to integrate a fingerprint sensor underneath the Home button) in their hand, the solution could make parental and media permission controls effortless and secure while allowing for multi-user scenarios.

Apple magic wand patent (drawing 001)

Also, the wand remote would allow viewers to “control an on-screen cursor to navigate video, similar to the MotionEngine technology that has been developed by Hillcrest Labs,” FierceCable explains.

Forbes notes as much, speculating a gracefully implemented fingerprint sensor “will likely lead to a stronger hand for negotiating content deals in the future.”

Here’s Apple’s original magic wand patent filing from 2009.

3D Apple TV Remote patent

A quote from Walter Isaacson’s authorized Steve Jobs bio mentions Apple’s late CEO as saying he “finally cracked the code” to the seamless television interface.

It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud. It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine.

Perhaps the magic wand invention is tied to Jobs’s vision for the television?

It’s been more than eighteen months since Apple last refresh its set-top box console.

Apple TV companion
Brightcove CEO called for an Apple TV companion with built-in coax dongle.

The fourth-generation Apple TV certainly is in the pipeline.

I’m guessing here, but Apple could be looking to first introduce fingerprint scanning to its user base via the next iPhone before rolling out the next Apple TV. We’re pretty sure the fourth-generation Apple TV will feature 802.11ac Wi-Fi networking along with a new magic wand controller, among other improvements.

Does any of this make any sense to you?

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  • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

    All done before, just little advancements here and there being patented by a patent troll:

    “…theoretically enabling identity and trust in order to authenticate viewers securely and deliver personalized content.”

    So, TVs are now getting user accounts? Already offered by PCs with Windows Media Center….

    “It describes the wand remote as being used to navigate programming from the Apple TV and other media devices, including content delivered via coaxial cable.”

    Sounds like the experience I’m already having on my Samsung Smart TV with the touch-pad remote…

    “It’s worth remarking that cable television through coaxial cable and fingerprint sensors (mentioned in two distinct claims) would both be firsts for the Apple TV.”

    Uhm, my HP Pavilion laptop from 2008, which has Windows Media center and a built in fingerprint reader, has been offering this function for years now; this here sounds like just a software advancement on that.

    • http://www.idownloadblog.com/author/dujkan Christian Zibreg

      Funny thing how history repeats itself. Re: the comment you made, smartphones prior to iPhone could also surf the web, check email, play music, videos and games, manage appointments and more – but nobodoy used those poorly implemented features.

      My Panasonic Viera plamsa TV can also run apps, Facebook, games and I never use those capabilities because I can’t stand the crappy interface.

      Smart TV is better but still too difficult to use for an average person. Apple is often in the business of making geeky things simple for average consumers.

      • Scott

        I agree, I have a bluray player and Xbox 360 both with Netflix and. Internet capabilities. I never use them. I use my ATV3s on all three of my TVs. Love the interface and smoothness of it. The interface on my Samsung bluray player sucks and is leggy as hell. Hell most of my movies are digital now all on my computer so the bluray player hasn’t been used in about a year.

        For me, my Xbox is for playing games. That is it. I don’t want to Skype on it, I don’t want to watch TV on it, etc… Just games. I won’t be buying the Xbox one. Sad really. I have been an Xbox fan and loyal customer ever since the first one came out. Disappointed with the route MS went with the XB1. Guess I will stick with iOS games from now on once a 3rd party controller comes out for one.

      • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

        Ignoramusly skipping the main point I see. Incase your fanboy eyes skipped it, I stated these are just little advancements here and there in what already existed; Apple didn’t invent nothing here! Yet, they’re patenting it like a typical patent troll…

  • Burge

    Can you stop calling it iTV before people starting thinking that’s what it’s going to be called ..it is never going to be called that..

    • http://www.idownloadblog.com/author/dujkan Christian Zibreg

      we have to call it something until it’s officially released

      • Burge

        If its released. Its speculation at the mo

      • Boss

        Apple TV

    • n0ahcruz3

      What do you prefer to call it before it is released? Product X? Apple TV(lol)? Prototype x?

      • Burge

        I can go with Product X .

  • Dante Arellano

    I dont know if all of you can see that apple moves very slow so what will hapen with the iphone 6 same thing but with 10 mgpix camera and Siri can say my name